We have a safe word in our marriage.
No, it’s not some kinky, “Fifty-shades of Grey” thing.
It’s a tool we use to fight better, smarter or not even fight at all.
It all started when I was pregnant with Alexie. The pregnancy hormones were getting to me and I was an emotional mess. I was crying at the strangest thing (like someone else being pulled by police). I would start laughing and wouldn’t be able to stop. And I would get angry over the smallest little thing.
A poorly-timed joke, a forgotten grocery item or even just a question about something like the budget, would send us into a hormone-induced battle. It was kind of ridiculous. I read somewhere that it was a good idea to have a way to end hormone-induced fights and one of the suggestions was to have a code word.
The concept was simple. A word that either person could say that would pause the argument, giving everyone a chance to calm down and for hormones to relax. Later the conversation could be picked up again and calmer heads often prevailed. Actually, being totally honest, like 95% of our fights ended right there. Once the hormones calmed down, I was able to realize that the joke was really a joke, the forgotten broccoli or a mistake in the budget app wasn’t the big deal that I originally thought and felt it was.
Fast forward a few years and we still use our safe word.
I’m no longer pregnant. We have 2 little girls under 2. We have lived through a major basement renovation. We’ve been through a death, lost a job, start a business and a blog and through all these stressors on our marriage, we still use our safe word.
You see, every couple fights. It’s normal and if done properly, it’s a healthy part of every relationship. Building a life with another human being isn’t an easy feat and there is going to be tension and conflict at some point. But our safe word is one tool that we use to fight better.
It’s like a pause button. It’s a chance to put the conversation on hold, to have it at another time. Like once neither of us is starving or when we haven’t been up all night with a crying baby. About 90% of our fights end here. Once we aren’t exhausted, hangry or stressed, the conversation becomes that, a conversation rather than a fight. We actually love our safe word because it works for us.
It gives us a chance to re-energize
Having a safe word gives both of us a chance to recharge. I can honestly say that about half the stupid fights we have are because one of us (and being totally honest, usually me) is hungry or tired. Low blood sugar makes me one cranky mama. Add in a poorly timed joke or a difficult question, and it’s the perfect recipe for a ridiculous fight. Using a safe word gives us a chance to rest, eat and come back to it later. Often times, this is all it takes.
It gives us a chance to get our thoughts together
Ever have a fight where, in the middle, you’ve lost track of what you were actually fighting about. That’s about the time when someone starts grasping at straws and the low blows come out. A simple little disagreement has become a full-blown battle and all because you forgot what you were actually fighting about and are just focused on winning at any cost. It happens to the best of us. Using a safe word is a great way to press pause before you say something you regret. It’s a chance to gather your thoughts so you can actually have a constructive conversation rather than a battle.
It acts as a warning
I love my husband. He is a super funny guy, except when he picks the worst time to start his teasing and jokes. It always seems like he’s in a joking mood, right when I’m making dinner, with a toddler running around at my ankles and I can feel my blood sugar dropping. Rather than snapping and it turning into a fight, I just use my safe word and he knows to back off. It’s a simple warning that I’m not in the greatest mood. Instead of having to explain everything I’m thinking and feeling at that exact moment, it’s one word. In this instance our safe word actually prevents fights.
Using our safe word (it’s Pineapple by the way, just in case you were wondering) allows us to make sure we are both physically, mentally and emotionally ready to have the conversation. Or we can pause it until those needs are met. We can communicate better, more efficiently and as a result, we have fewer big blowouts. Our safe word is a key part of our marriage and we plan to use it for a long time!